10 Days in Chile | 1 Week in Santiago: Day 1

My trip to Chile was fantastic. It was awesome to see my friend, it was exhilarating to explore a new place, and I really enjoyed stumbling through each day trying to rely on my mediocre levels of Spanish and practicing and getting better. I flew down on a Thursday night and arrived bright and early on Friday morning. There was no time difference so I didn't suffer from jetlag, which was pretty amazing.

I didn't manage to do quite everything I had hoped to do, namely due to the weather (it rained a lot while I was there) but that just means I need to go back. I have to go back eventually anyway because I haven't yet tackled Patagonia and also because I didn't get to eat any Chilean sea bass (my favorite fish).
The weather was completely bearable (averaged 55F) but because my body had acclimated to summer already, I felt like it was freezing. Luckily, I had anticipated this and packed accordingly. I found a decent faux-leather jacket (via Topshop, on sale for $60) which was wind-resistant, rain-resistant, and super functional for this trip; it was definitely the MVP of my wardrobe.

Here's what I packed:
All of my stuff fit into my small underseat roller, which was so nice. I love being able to roll my bag around the airport, especially when navigating flights with layovers. On my flight to Houston, the seat adjacent to me was empty (which was so weird because the standby list was rather long) but that was fine with me because it meant I could lie down and sleep. On the flight from Houston to Chile, I popped some Z-quil and completely conked out so by the time I arrived in Santiago, I was surprisingly well-rested.
I was treated to some gorgeous views of the Andes as we approached Santiago.

When I landed, I got a shared airport transfer via Delfos for $8,000 CLP ($13 USD) which took me to L's office in Las Condes. The driver seemed confused by the address and asked if it was a hotel, but luckily, I'd gone through the chapter of Duolingo that taught me the word "oficina" which easily cleared things up.

I got to the office with no problems and then met L so I could grab the keys to her apartment. She put me in an uber to her place and I was able to freshen up a little before I explored the city for the first time.
L's apartment was right by the metro so I quickly googled how to use it before heading out. Basically, you're forced to buy a Bip! card which costs $1,500 CLP ($2.30 USD) and you load it with money to use on the metro or for the micro (which is the bus). The cost per ride varies with the time; there's one fare for rush hour, one fare for low-traffic times, and a third fare for in-between. The metro is supremely easy to navigate. There are only five lines and they make most of the city pretty accessible.
My first touristy activity was to visit this little hill in the city center. It's actually a remnant of a volcano, which I find fascinating, and it's quite picturesque. You can walk right up to the top where there's a steep set of stairs and a tower that gives quite a lovely view of the city and the Andes.
It's a lovely place to get a bit of exercise and it's a nice respite from the traffic and bustling city streets.
The stairs up to the tower can be a bit slick so if you're visiting after a rainfall, do be careful. One lady almost ate it at the top of the stairs whilst holding her daughter's hand and it was pretty scary.

Unluckily for me, I was there on a really smoggy day. The pollution in Santiago is pretty bad and the smog can get so intense that the views of the mountains are obscured. I still enjoyed the view.
There are street dogs everywhere in Santiago, which was one of my favorite things about this city. They're so cute and savvy and it was a nice treat for me to see these little heart-melters all over, especially since I miss my dog like crazy when I'm on vacation.
After spending a couple of hours in the city, I headed back to the apartment, grabbed my bags, and met with L and N so we could head to the airport for our weekend excursion. On my way to meet them, I walked past the military training academy, which has a giant, gorgeous campus. I got to see some of the officers-in-training riding horses.
Domestic flights in Chile are super easy to navigate. We were a little late grabbing our Uber and then furthermore there was traffic so we only arrived to the airport about 15 minutes before boarding was about to begin for our flight. We ran like hell through the airport to the domestic departures area. Luckily, the process for getting through security for a domestic flight is much less intensive (they don't even really care if you bring liquids through and there's no passport control for obvious reasons) so we made it through just as people were starting to queue up to board the plane.

I'll be sharing all about our weekend trip in subsequent posts.
Here's my map: